When I started writing this article, I did a quick sweep of my Facebook feed for ideas. Four of my friends were selling Shakeology — or Shakeo as the cool marketers call it — and many people I know have taken it while pregnant and breastfeeding. It makes sense — it's supposedly a "superfood" drink that could be really beneficial — but can you drink Shakeology while breastfeeding, or should you pass until you wean?
Shakeology is the nutrition and protein shake created and sold by Beachbody LLC. It comes in several flavors and iterations, including a vegan option, and it's touted to be the best out there by the multi-level marketers (MLM) who sell it. It's also very expensive at $130 for just 30 servings of the product. The people who use it, even those who don't sell it, are huge fans of the product. I've tried it, and honestly, it tastes pretty good. It's not my favorite, but I wouldn't turn it down. And in the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that while I do not sell Beachbody or any MLMs, I am completely obsessed with Shaun T and his Insanity workouts. Also, some of my closest friends sell the stuff.
That being said, is it safe for all times of your life? I know many, many moms who've guzzled the stuff down while they're pregnant and breastfeeding because they think it's good for them and, let's be honest, it's a fast meal at a time when you don't have many spare hours to cook. But is it safe?
Here's the thing. It's not just protein and sugar in those shakes. It's a full-on supplement. It's not approved by the FDA, and they haven't completed any double-blind studies concerning the effects of the drug on a developing fetus or how it crosses into the milk via lactation. Those are the first red flags you might want to consider.
Next is that Beachbody LLC does not intend for it to be sold to pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, and they say so themselves. However, they give a lot of leeway to their MLMs as to how they want to sell the product, and they don't do a great job at regulating the information disseminated by their clients. As far as business practices go, it's pretty much par for the course in the health and fitness MLM.
I spoke to registered dietitian Katie Heddleston, MS RD, who specializes in moms and kids, and she tells Romper in an email, "Wait until you're done breastfeeding. There are two reasons for this: First, the amounts of chromium, biotin, and vitamins A, B1, B12, and C [in the shake] exceed the recommended dietary allowance for breastfeeding mothers. And the amount of folic acid is too low — typically, while you are nursing, you continue taking your prenatal vitamin."
But Heddleston also notes that drinking a meal replacement shake while postpartum may not be the best for your mindset. "Shakeology is marketed as a meal replacement and your body actually needs more calories to produce all that milk," she says. "Your postpartum journey should include nourishing foods for you and babe, without the pressure of replacing good food with a replacement."
La Leche League of Virginia and West Virginia wrote about the safety of the individual ingredients and determined that Shakeology cannot be considered safe during breastfeeding. Not only has it not been studied in any real capacity, but it also has some scary ingredients for pregnancy and nursing. These are ashwagandha, gingko, astragalus, luo han guo, goji, and shisandra. All of these are contraindicated for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
When it comes down to it, it's between you and your OB-GYN and pediatrician whether they consider it safe for you to use while you're breastfeeding. As with any supplement, it should always be used with caution and at the discretion of your physician.